Anda di halaman 1dari 16

26.02.

2018 January | 2016 | Ithihas

Ithihas
Kaleidoscope of Indian civilization

In this blog you will find


Monthly Archives: January 2016
Writeups on Indian historical
themes and Biographies of
rulers and statesmen.
The Historicity of Vishwamitras
January 26, 2016 – 4:02 am
Blogroll
Among the ancient Rishi families, that of the family of Vishwamitra stands
facetsofindianhistory prominent. Their names have been associated with the rulers of Ikshavaku
Sanatana Parishad dynasties like Trishanku, Harishchandra, Sudasa and Dasharatha Rama. The
Thinkerspad famous king Bharata in whose memory our country is today named was the
grandson of a member of this family. Moreover the third mandala of Rig-Veda is
ascribed to a member of Vishwamitra family and so also the famous Gayatri
Archives mantra. Information about Vishwamitra is found in the Rig-Veda, Brahmanas,
February 2018 Ramayana and the Puranas. In the Puranas 1 the name of Vishwamitra is
January 2018 associated with Ikshavaku kings who ruled during different time periods. For
October 2017 instance Trishanku was the 26th ruler of that dynasty, while Sudasa was the 47th
August 2017 ruler and Rama was the 65th ruler.2 If we have to believe that a single Vishwamitra
June 2017 had associated with all these rulers, it means that he lived for several centuries and
May 2017
this defies human reasoning and makes Vishwamitra a mythical person. An
alternative assumption which we could make is to consider the Vishwamitra
March 2017
associated with Trishanku as Vishwamitra I, the one who is associated with
October 2016
Sudasa as Vishwamitra II and so on.3 In this essay an attempt have been made to
June 2016
find the historicity of the members of the Vishwamitra family and identify the
January 2016 interpolated stories associated with them.
November 2015
August 2015 Vishwamitra’s rivalry with Vasishta
June 2015
February 2015
Vishwamitra it is said in the Puranas was originally a Kshatriya and ruler of
Kanyakubj. Once he met sage Vasishta who entertained Vishwamitra and his
January 2015
retinue in his ashram with a lavish lunch with the help of a divine cow
September 2014 Kamadhenu/Nandini. Vishwamitra asked Vasishta to give him Nandini and offered
June 2014 him a thousand cows, horses, gold and precious stones; but Vasishta refused.
May 2014 Vishwamitra tried to use force but was defeated. After repeated defeats under the
April 2014 hands of Vasishta, Vishwamitra undertook severe penance and attained the status
March 2014 of Brahmarishi. From Kshatriya he became a Brahmin.4 But the old grudge which
December 2013 he had with Vasishta persisted and continued in various episodes involving various
November 2013 characters like Trishanku and Harishchandra.
October 2013
Vishwamitra and Trishanku
September 2013
August 2013 From the chronological point of view the first ruler with whom Vishwamitra is
May 2013 associated is Trishanku, the king of Ayodhya. Trishanku desired to go to heaven
April 2013 with his body intact and approached Vasishta to fulfill his desire, but the latter
February 2013 declined saying that it was not possible. Trishanku then approached Vishwamitra
January 2013 who took it as a challenge and using his merit of penance sent Trishanku to
July 2012
heaven. When Trishanku reached the gates of the heaven, Indra did not allow him
and Trishanku started falling down towards earth. He cried for help and
January 2010
Vishwamitra using his supernatural power created a separate heaven for Trishanku
July 2009 (Trishanku swarga). Indra then pleaded Vishwamitra not to create a parallel
June 2009
heaven and agreed to admit Trishanku to his heaven.5
May 2009
April 2009 Vishwamitra and Harishchandra
March 2009
February 2009
Harishchandra was the son of Trishanku and once performed the Rajasuya
ceremony with Vasishta as the main priest. This made Vishwamitra jealous and he
October 2008
waited for an opportunity to take revenge upon Harishchandra. As Harishchandra
September 2008
was famous for his truthfulness and charitable disposition, Vishwamitra in disguise

https://ithihas.wordpress.com/2016/01/ 1/16
26.02.2018 January | 2016 | Ithihas

August 2008 as a Brahmin went to him for help to marry his son. Harishchandra promised to
July 2008 give whatever Vishwamitra wish to have. Vishwamitra demanded his kingdom with
June 2008 all its wealth. Harishchandra gave up his kingdom and with his wife and son
May 2008
decided to leave the kingdom. It was a convention that whenever a gift is given to a
Brahmin, a dakshina should also be given along with it, otherwise the gift would be
April 2008
futile. When Harishchandra asked the Brahmin what he wanted as dakshina, the
March 2008
Brahmin demanded two and a half bhaaras of gold. As Harishchandra was now
February 2008 penniless, he promised the Brahmin to pay him as soon as possible. Later the
Brahmin persisted for the dakshina resulting in Harishchandra selling his wife and
son to pay him. As there was shortage of the amount promised, Harishchandra
pledged himself to a grave digger and finally settled the amount. Finally when
Harishchandra was about to commit suicide with his wife after cremating his dead
son, Vishwamitra reveals his true image and along with gods bless Harishchandra
for keeping his word.6

Vishwamitra and Shunashshepa

In Rig-Veda Vishwamitra’s name is associated with an episode in which he


partakes in a sacrificial ceremony in which a human is to be slayed. The story goes
on like this- Harishchandra, the ruler of the Ikshavaku dynasty is childless and is
keen to have one. Sage Narada advises him to pray god Varuna for a son with a
promise that he (Harishchandra) would surrender the child to Varuna in a sacrifice.
Varuna agree to this and grants him a son. Later Harishchandra makes several
excuses to part with his son and later apprises his son Rohita of the contract which
he had made with Varuna. Rohita who did not wish to be sacrificed went to the
forest. Meanwhile Varuna curses Harishchandra with a disease. In the forest
Rohita meets a sage Ajigarta and offers him 100 cows in return for giving him
(Rohita) his son, Shunashshepa. Ajigarta agrees and Rohita brings Shunashshepa
to his father Harishchandra and tell him to approach Varuna with an offer to
sacrifice Shunashshepa in lieu of Rohita. Varuna agrees to this and a sacrificial
ceremony begins in which sages like Vishwamitra, Vasishta and Jamadagni take
part. Distressed of being sacrificed Shunashshepa pleads to the gods who taking
pity of him decides to set him free. Shunashshepa is then adopted by
Vishwamitra.7 Apart from the above stories Vishwamitra is also associated with
Rama whose help he took to slay the demons who tried to disturb his sacrificial
rites.8

Identifying the historic Vishwamitras

The information with regards to Vishwamitra creating a heaven for Trishanku is first
referred in the Bala kanda of Ramayana. As the Bala kanda and Uttara kanda are
not genuine to the original Ramayana, the narrative in question is clearly a later
interpolation.9 Vishwamitra creating a heaven for Trishanku defies commonsense
and is just an imaginary fiction of a person who misused his authority to insert it in
the epic Ramayana during revision of the text.10 The story of Vishwamitra
tormenting Harishchandra first appears in the Devi Bhagavata Purana (a
upapurana), which might have been fabricated by the fertile imagination of the
story teller.11 Hence regarding the historicity of Vishwamitra I we can presume that
he was a contemporary of Trishanku and lived around 5169 B.C.12 As Trishanku
was not in good terms with Vasishta, his family preceptor, he took the help of
Vishwamitra I in conducting a ceremony which further enraged Vasishta. Hence
Vasishta had probably refused to perform Trishanku’s obsequies. This could have
forced Trishanku’s son Harishchandra take the help of Vishwamitra I to conduct his
father’s last rites by paying a heavy fee (dakshina). These facts were blown out of
proportion by the Puranic writers of the later period. Hence we find all those fanciful
stuff like Vishwamitra creating a heaven for Trishanku and later harassing his son
Harishchandra for dakshina, etc.13 The next important member of this family was
Vishwamitra II who lived around 4489 B.C.14 His daughter was Shakuntala who
married the Paurava king Dushyanta. Their son was Bharatha in whose memory
our country is named.

The most famous member of this family was Vishwamitra III (4329 B.C.) who
composed the 62 hymns of Rig-Veda (third mandala). He was a contemporary of a
member of Vasishta family who composed the VII mandala of the Rig-Veda.15
Vishwamitra III is said to have helped the Ikshavaku king Sudas and his retinue, to
cross the confluence of river Vipas and Shutudri (Beas and Sutlej).16The credit of

https://ithihas.wordpress.com/2016/01/ 2/16
26.02.2018 January | 2016 | Ithihas

having composed the famous Gayatri mantra also goes to him. In Atharvaveda
Samhita, Vishwamitra’s name is connected with charms and spells, the utterance
of which could cure diseases and food grains becomes abundant. Hence he was
called Vishwa Mitra, friend of the world.17 But it is difficult to prove whether it is
referred to Vishwamitra III or another member of this family.

Now let us verify the story of Shunashshepa. Reference to Shunashshepa is found


in verses in the first and fifth mandala of the Rig-Veda. With regards to the
reference to Shunashshepa in the first mandala, H.L.Hariyappa in his work, Rig-
Vedic Legends through the Ages infers that two of the verses (1.24.12 and
1.24.13) ascribed to Shunashshepa could be a later insertion or interpolation by
samhita designers in order to remind themselves of that great Vedic event.18 If two
verses can be interpolated why we can’t doubt the entire verses ascribed to
Shunashshepa to be interpolated on the following grounds.

1. This story is not even indirectly mentioned in the Vishwamitra mandala (III
mandala) and Vasishta mandala (VII mandala) though both the rishis
officiated as priests in the ceremony in which Shunashshepa was to be
sacrificed.19
2. It is surprising that Shunashshepa story is recorded in the fifth mandala by
the Atri family who were in no way connected with the affair.20
3. It was only during the Brahmana period that sacrifices gained a prominent
place not during the early Vedic period. Hence it is hard to believe that
eminent seers like Vishwamitra, Vasishta and Jamadagni belonging to the
early Rig-Vedic period could take part in a ceremony where an innocent
Brahmin is sacrificed.
4. Harishchandra is famous for keeping up his word at any cost and this is
known from the episode (once again interpolated) in which he sold his wife
and pledged himself to raise money to pay the dakshina of Vishwamitra and
how he underwent untold miseries just to keep his promise. In the
Shunashshepa episode he is seen not only avoiding fulfilling his promise but
also replacing his son with Shunashshepa at the sacrificial altar which is
quite amazing.
5. Based on the then current popular stories, there is a possibility of
Shunashshepa’s story being introduced by the editors of the Rig-Veda.21

6. Even the reference to Vishwamitra of having performed the Ashvamedha


yaga (horse sacrifice) on behalf of the Bharatas mentioned in the Rig-Veda
appears to be an interpolation as it was during the Brahmana period that
sacrifices attained prominence; the details of the said ritual are found in the
Brahmana and Sutra literature and not in the Rig-Veda.

Vishwamitra’s rivalry with Vasishta

Vishwamitra’s rivalry with Vasishta is purely fictions. It lacks Vedic authority to say
that Vishwamitra was a Kshatriya elevated to Brahmanhood. Apart from orthodox
tradition, researches point to the fact that caste held sway over the people during a
very late period of the Rig-Vedic age. As Vasishta and Vishwamitra belonged to a
hoary past even at the time of the Rig-Vedic compilation, it would be short-sighted
to attribute any varna to them.22

In Valmiki’s Ramayana we hear of one Vishwamitra who took the help of Rama and
Lakshmana to fight against the asuras who were causing havoc at the ceremonies
being conducted by the rishis in the forest. This person was probably another
descend from the famous Vishwamitra family and lived during the period 3609 B.C.
We shall identify him as Vishwamitra IV.

Probable reasons behind the interpolations

1. In the Shunashshepa episode seers like Vishwamitra and Vasishta were


deliberately involved to show that these eminent men of yore supported
sacrifices. These interpolations may have taken place during the period
when due to the influence of the ideals of Upanishads, Buddhism and
Jainism sacrificial ceremonies were looked upon with contempt.
2. The reason behind the story of the rivalry between Vishwamitra and Vasishta
was to show that no matter how strong and powerful a Kshatriya king was;
he would be always inferior to a Brahmin.

https://ithihas.wordpress.com/2016/01/ 3/16
26.02.2018 January | 2016 | Ithihas

3. Katre in his work, Introduction to Indian Textual Criticism says that


Interpolation is a natural instinct in man and such cannot be considered a
crime. Considering the texts which have been transmitted for centuries by
oral tradition only- namely the Veda and Vedic literature- the aspect of
interpolation need not be doubted at all, “for the organs of tradition were not
machines, but men”.23
4. According to Prof. R.C.Hazra adherents of various sects such as Shaktas,
Sauras, Pancaratras interpolated chapters in the Puranas of the established
group and in some case wrote new and independent works to propagate
their own ideas and styled them Puranas.24

Just like the historians of the Macaulay/Marxist breed, the Itihasakaras and
Pauranikas of ancient India have made a mess of our ancient history by
interpolating imaginary tales and other absurdities in the Vedas, Ramayana,
Mahabharatha and the Puranas during successive revisions of these texts. There
is an urgent need to critically edit the above source books, so that the political
history of ancient India could be reconstructed from at least 5000 B.C.

As we have not reconstructed the political history of the Vedic period in a


systematic manner, political history of ancient India is studied beginning with 3rd
century B.C. Hence in the study of world civilizations top priority is given to Egypt,
Mesopotamia and Greek civilizations as the annals of their kings and rulers whose
historicity dates back as far as 4000 B.C. have been well documented. To put
Indian civilization at par with other ancient civilizations we need to reconstruct a
comprehensive political history of ancient India at the earliest so that the historicity
of persons now considered as mythical can be established.

As the personalities of the Vedic and epic period traversed across the whole of
India, they have left behind rich memories which are still remembered in regional
folklore and places of interest in India. For instance personalities like Agastya,
Parashurama, Hanuman, etc., and places like Kishkinda, Lepakshi, Hampe,
Rameshwaram, etc., to name a few. Hence documenting the history of the Vedic
period would also rectify the lacuna found in the existing description of Indian
history where inadequate coverage is given to south India.

References

1. The main source of information about the rishis of ancient India is the
Puranas which unfortunately mix up gods and mythological persons with real
rishis. It was also difficult for the Sutas (bards whose duties was to preserve
the genealogies of rishis as well as the kings) to preserve the genealogies of
the rishis as they lived in secluded forests. Unlike that of the kings, there was
no exciting tales to tell about the rishis for the Sutas and therefore they did
not give much importance to maintain the genealogies of the rishis.
(E.Pargiter, Ancient Indian Historical Tradition, p.185) Hence we find the
same names of rishis who were associated with the rulers living in different
times.
2. See the list of kings belonging to Ikshavaku dynasty mentioned in the Vayu
Purana in D.R.Mankad’s, Puranic Chronology, Gangajala Prakashana, 1951,
p.341
3. The mention of a person by the simple name is no sure criterion that the
original person of that name is intended, but often means a descendant.
F.E.Pargiter- Ancient Indian Historical Tradition, London, 1922, pp:139,140
4. Vettam Mani- Puranic Encyclopedia, Motilal Banarsidass, 1975, p.835
5. Ibid, p.795
6. Ibid, pp: 873-875
7. Hariyappa- Rig-Vedic Legends through the Ages, Poona, 1953, pp:191-193
8. Vettam Mani- cit, p.632
9. Hariyappa, Op.cit, pp:295,296
10. Ibid, p.329. The author (Hariyappa) opines that a lot of concoction and
distortion have taken place in the epics and the Puranas and those who
were responsible for that did so with bad taste and unworthy motive.
11. Ibid, p.320. In the footnotes in the same page the author (Hariyappa) writes
– “popular impression now is that Vishwamitra was a cruel sage and all that.
How different from the Vedic Viswamitra, ‘heaven born, favourite of the gods,
great sage’. One is tempted to ask whether or to what extent, if at all, has the
cause of TRUTH been served by unbridled tradition, by the unscrupulous
story teller of Harikatha performer, or even by the high handed poet.
https://ithihas.wordpress.com/2016/01/ 4/16
26.02.2018 January | 2016 | Ithihas

12. As members of the Vishwamitra family were associated mainly with the
rulers of the Ikshavaku dynasty, we can tentatively arrive at the dates of
important members of that family if we can fix the dates of the Ikshavaku
kings. To fix the dates of the Ikshavaku rulers I have relied upon the list of
the said rulers given in the Vayu Purana. (D.R.Mankad p.341) The Ikshavaku
king who participated in the Mahabharatha war was Bruhadbala who is
placed in the number 94 in the list. Anterior to him is Rama placed in number
65; that is 29 generation before. If we take 2449 B.C. as the date of
Mahabharatha war and allot 40 years for each king, then Rama’s date would
be 3609 B.C. (40 years X 29 generations = 1160+2449 = 3609) Sudasa’s
number in the list is 47, that is 18 generations prior to Rama and is date
would be 4329 B.C. (40 years X 18 generations = 720+ 3609 = 4329).
Trishanku’s number is 26, that is 21 generations prior to Sudasa and his date
would be 5169 B.C. (40 years X 21 generations = 840+4329 = 5169). (In the
Purana list given by Pargiter, (pp: 144-148) the number given to rulers
belonging to Ikshavaku dynasty varies from that given in the Vayu Purana.
For instance in Pargiter’s list, Trishanku’s number is 32 while it is 26 in the
Vayu Purana. Similarly Sudasa’s number in the Pargiter’s list is 53 while it is
47 in the Vayu Purana. But the numbers given to Rama and Brihadbala, 65
and 94 respectively are same in both the list.)
13. Over a period of time the Sutas who were the preservers and propagators of
the Puranas sunk low in the social scale and foreign dynasties like that of
Kanishka and the Huns did not patronize them. The Sutas probably became
Buddhists as Buddhism with its Jataka stories gave to all persons following
the profession of a bard sufficient scope for earning their livelihood.
(P.V.Kane, History of Dharmashastra, vol-5, part II, p.857) With the exit of the
Sutas and as Sanskrit learning became peculiarly the business of Brahmins,
the profession of studying Puranas was taken over by the Brahmins.
(E.Pargiter, Op.cit, p.24) But the Brahmins who studied the Vedas
considered the Brahmins who were devoted to the study of the Puranas as
having fallen away from the highest Brahmanic standard. Hence the
Brahmins studying the Puranas magnified their own profession and extolled
the Puranas by incorporating distinctly Brahmanic teachings and practice
into the Puranas and compared them as sacred as Vedas. (F.E.Pargiter,
Op.cit, p.29) According to P.V.Kane, (Op.cit, p.838) the extant Puranas and
some of the Upapuranas have been so much tampered with and inflated by
additions intended to bolster up particular forms of worship and particular
tenets that great caution is required before one recognize them as genuine
and reliable representatives for ascertaining the general state of Indian
society and beliefs in ancient India.
14. For fixing the date of the member of Vishwamitra family who was the father
of Shakuntala, I have relied on the list of the Paurava kings given by Pargiter
in his work Ancient Indian Historical Traditions, (p.146). Dushyantha who
married Shakuntala is placed at number 43 in the list and the Pandava
brothers are placed at number 94. This means that Dushyantha lived 51
generation earlier to the Pandavas and hence his date would be 4489 B.C.
(40 years X 51 generations = 2040+2449 = 4489).
15. Hariyappa, Op.cit, p. P.241
16. Ibid, p.244
17. Ibid, p.261
18. Ibid, p.186
19. Ibid, p.187
20. Ibid
21. Ibid, p.190
22. Ibid, 330
23. Ibid, p.186
24. V.Kane- History of Dharmashastra, vol-5, part II, Bhandarkar Oriental
Research Institute, Poona, 1962, p.837

https://ithihas.wordpress.com/2016/01/ 5/16
26.02.2018 January | 2016 | Ithihas

Advertisements

Report this ad

Report this ad

By S.Srinivas | Posted in essays | Comments (1)

The Vedas- A Brief Introduction


January 2, 2016 – 4:01 am

The Vedas contain the divine wisdom and knowledge of things directly seen by the
Rishis or seers of hoary antiquity by intuition and are called Shrutis, i.e. what is
directly heard or experienced by intuition. Hence Vedas are called Apaurusheya,
i.e., not composed by any human beings.1 The Vedas are the earliest books of
mankind and occupy a unique position in world literature. In comparison with the
Egyptian pyramids and other ancient monuments which inspire us with their mute
grandeur and perpetuate the memories of their builders, the Vedas which have
most faithfully preserved the immortal words uttered by the ancient seers
thousands of years ago have been inspiring millions of devout Hindus since time
immemorial. The Vedas are the fountainhead of later Indian literature both religious
and secular. All Indian law givers regard the Veda as the principal source of
Dharma and all Hindus look upon the Vedas as the supreme authority in all matters
concerning religion, laws and social conduct. There is an unmistakable imprint of
Vedic influence over Indian religions, philosophy, literature, art and culture. Even
today millions of Hindus perform their religious rites with the recitation of those very
Vedic mantras which were recited by their forefathers thousands of years ago.2

Authors of the Veda

The hymns of the Rig Veda were composed by the members of Rishi families like
the Kanvas, Angirases, Agastyas, Grtsamadas, Atris, Viswamitras, Vasishtas,
Kasyapas, Bharatas and Bhrgus. Apart from these families we also have hymns

https://ithihas.wordpress.com/2016/01/ 6/16
26.02.2018 January | 2016 | Ithihas

composed jointly by members of different families and those composed by Rishis


whose family identity is unknown or unidentifiable.3 These mantras were revealed
to about 400 Rishis among whom 30 are women. Some women Rishis who
composed the Rigvedic hymns were Aditi, Apaalaa, Godhaa, Indraanii,
Lopamudra, Romashaa, Urvashi, Yami, Sikataa, Nivaavari and Aatreyi.4 Swami
Mahadevananda Giri has given the names of the Rishis who has composed the
Rigveda in appendix I of his book Vedic Culture.5

Date of its Composition

Based on astronomical data Indians have fixed the date on which the
Mahabharatha war took place. According to Aryabhatta, Kaliyuga began from 3102
B.C. and the date of Mahabharatha war was 3138 B.C. In modern times scholars
like Dr. Mankad fixed 3201 B.C. as the date of the war and mathematicians and
astrophysicists making use of planetarium software and taking the astronomical
data available in the text of the epic Mahabharatha itself as the basis, have
assigned the year 3067 B.C. as the date of the Mahabharatha war. Another
famous astronomer Varahamihira says that Yudhisthira became king in saka era
2526 B.C. corresponding to 2469 B.C. or 2447 B.C. Dr. P.C.Sengupta based on
Vedanga Jyotisha has fixed 2449 B.C. as the date of Mahabharatha war. The date
arrived by the Kashmiri historian Kalhana was 2448 B.C., one year less than that
assigned by P.C.Sengupta. Considering either 3067 B.C. or 2449 B.C. as the date
in which the Mahabharatha war took place helps us arrive at the approximate age
of the composition of Rigveda.6

It is said that Mandala II to VII form the oldest core of the Rigveda; of which the III
mandala is ascribed to sage Vishwamitra and the VII to sage Vasishta. Both
Vasista and Vishwamitra were associated with Sudasa, the Ikshavaku king and
entertained by him on different occasions. In Vayu Purana we have a total of 94
kings from Manu to Bhrihadbala belonging to the Ikshavaku dynasty. Bhrihadbala
died in the Mahabharatha war and was 47 generation after Sudasa, the famous
king of Ayodhya. Taking Vayu Purana as the basis for the list of ancient Indian
kings and the year 2449 B.C. as the date of Mahabharatha war and allotting 40
years for each generation, the date of Sudasa would be 4329 B.C. and as Vasista
and Vishwamitra were contemporaries of Sudasa, the date 4329 B.C. could be
taken as the approximate date of the composition of the Rigveda. If we take the
year 3067 B.C. as the date in which the Mahabharatha war took place then the
approximate date of the composition of the Rigveda would be 4947 B.C.7

Classification of the Vedas

In ancient times Vedas meant only one collection of all the mantras numbering
about twenty-five thousand or more. Later for the purpose of study and
preservation, the single collection was divided by Veda Vyasa into four overlapping
collection of mantras as Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharva Veda and
taught one each to his disciples, Paila, Vaishampayana, Jaimini and Sumantu
respectively.8 According to Sri Chandrashekar Saraswathi men in ancient times
were endowed with great mental and physical abilities and were able to master the
whole Vedas. But in the Kali age they began to lose their divine yogic powers.
Hence to protect the Vedas from going into total extinction, Krishna Dvaipayana
(also known as Veda Vyasa) divided the Vedas 9 and this took place after the end
of Mahabharatha War (2449 B.C or 3067 B.C.)

Contents of the Vedas

Rig Veda

The Rig Veda samhita is in Rik or hymn form. (The name rik is applied to those
mantras that are divided into feet, metrical padas (often) based on meaning) Each
Rik is a mantra. A number of Riks constitute a Sookta. The Rig Veda has 1028
sooktas containing 10,552 mantras.10 A mantra is a poetic revelation received by a
human sage (Rishi) during the state of deep concentration.11 The Rig Veda
consists of hymns mainly in praise of different gods and form the immediate source
of the other three Vedas. These gods are personalities presiding over the diverse
powers of nature or forming their very essence like the storm, the rain, the thunder,
etc. it was the forces of nature and her manifestations on earth and atmosphere
that excited the devotion and imagination of the Vedic poets. These gods may be
https://ithihas.wordpress.com/2016/01/ 7/16
26.02.2018 January | 2016 | Ithihas

roughly classified as the terrestrial, atmospheric and celestial gods.12 The largest
number of mantras, (2500) is addressed to Indra, followed by Agni with 2000
mantras and Soma with 1200 mantras.13

Yajur Veda

The word Yajus is derived from the root Yaj which means worship. The word Yajna
(sacrificial worship) is also derived from it. (Yajus means those Vedic mantras that
are neither rik nor Saman) The chief purpose of Yajur Veda is to give the mantras
of the Rig Veda appearing in the form of hymns a practical shape in the form of
yajna or worship.14 The Yajur Veda contains in addition to the verses from Rig
Veda (Usually at least a third of the mantras in any Yajur Veda recession are rik
mantras 15) many original prose formulas- to be employed in various religious
sacrifices. Hence this Veda may be called the book of sacrificial prayers.16

The Yajur Veda is divided into Shukla Yajur Veda and Krishna Yajur Veda. The
Shukla Yajur Veda is also known as Vaajasaneya Samhita (Vaajasani means the
sun) as Rishi Yajnavalkya is believed to have learnt this knowledge from the sun
god.17 Shukla Yajur Veda has 3988 mantras including both rik and yajus
mantras.18 The Vaajasaneyi Samhita of the Shukla Yajur Veda, its associated
Brahmana, Shatapata Brahmana and the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad are
associated with sage Yajnavalkya.18

The Samhita of the Taittiriya branch of Krishna Yajur Veda known as Taittiriya
Samhita has a total of 4773 mantras of which 3248 are yajus and 1525 are rik
mantras. Of these rik mantras, 862 can be traced to the existing edition of Rigveda
samhita. Thus about 663 rik mantra in the Taittiriya Samhita are not in the current
Rigvedic text.19 In the Taittiriya branch of Krishna Yajur Veda, the Taittiriya
Brahmana and Taittiriya Aaranyaka have both mantra and the Brahmana passages
and hence form a continuation of the Taittiriya Samhita.20 One point to note is that
there are about thousand mantras which are common to both Vaajasaneya
Samhita and Taittiriya Samhita.21 Of all the shakhas (branches) of the four Vedas,
Taittiriya Samhita of Krishna Yajur Veda has the greatest number of adherents in
Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala and the border regions
in Maharashtra.22

Sama Veda

Sama means to bring ‘shanti’ or peace of mind.23 The Sama Veda consists of 1549
stanzas distributed in two books. Except 75 verses, all other verses of this Veda is
taken entirely from Rig Veda and were meant to be recited by the Ugatri priest to
certain fixed melodies during the Soma sacrifices. Hence this Veda may be called
the book of chants. (Saman is the name applied to Vedic mantras that are sung)
The contents of Sama Veda are derived chiefly from the 8th and 9th book of Rig
Veda and resemble the Yajur Veda in having been compiled exclusively for ritual
application.24 According to Swami Dayananda Saraswathi, Sama Veda is the basis
of Gandharva Veda, the science of music.25

Atharva Veda

Atharva means a purohit and also a name of a rishi (Atharvana).26 This Veda has
mostly rik mantras with a small number of yajus mantra.27 According to tradition
Atharva Veda is mainly a contribution of sages Atharvana and Angira. Atharva
Veda contains references to various aspects of spiritual and temporal importance
like Brahmavidya, kingship, marriage, treatment of ailments, poetics, etc. This
Veda is also connected with subsequent development of Tantric system and
mentions the significance of Japa or chanting of mantras to achieve material or
other benefits which form an integral part of Indian religio-mysticism till today.28
Atharva Veda is the basis of Ayurveda, Kamashastra and Dandanithi.29

Parts of the Vedas

The Brahmanas

https://ithihas.wordpress.com/2016/01/ 8/16
26.02.2018 January | 2016 | Ithihas

Each Veda consists of samhitas which are collection of hymns called mantras. To
each Veda are attached a treatise called Brahmanas written in prose. They are the
primary source of information about sacrifices, rituals and priests. They contain
numerous myths and legends put forward for illustrating ritual and sacrifices. The
subject matter of the Brahmanas can be divided into two main topics of vidhi (rules)
and arthavada (explanations). Thus the rules for conducting a sacrifice are
supplemented by a commentary on aspects connected with the sacrifice.30 They
subject matter of the Brahmanas which are attached to the various Vedas differs
according to the divergent duties performed by the kind of priest connected with
each Veda. The Brahmanas of the Rigveda in explaining the ritual usually limit
themselves to the duties of the priest called Hotri or reciter. The Brahmanas of the
Sama Veda are concerned only with the duties of the Udgaatri or chanter or the
Saamans and the Brahmanas of the Yajur Veda with those of the Adhvaryu or the
priest who is the actual sacrifice.31

Some of the important rishis who composed the Brahmanas are Mahidasa Aitareya
the composer of Aitareya Brahmana of the Rigveda, Rishi Kausitaka who
composed Kausitaki Brahmana, Rishi Taittiri the composer of Krishna Yajurveda
and its Brahmana portion called Taittiriya, Rishi Jaimini, the originator of Talavakara
Brahmana of the Sama Veda, Yajnavalkya the great exponent of Shukla Yajurveda
and Shatapatha Brahmana.32

The Aaranyakas

As a further development of the Brahmanas we get the Aaranyakas or forest


treatises. These works were probably composed for old men who had retired into
forests and were thus unable to perform elaborate sacrifices requiring multitude of
accessories and articles which could not be procured in the forest. These texts
gave prominence to meditation on certain symbols for obtaining merit.33

The Upanishads

The Rishis of a much later age attempted to recover the spiritual knowledge
independently by means of tapas (meditation). The philosophical truths and occult
knowledge recovered by the Rishis are contained in the Upanishads. There is the
list of 108 Upanishads compiled in the Muktika Upanishad. But the famous 13
Upanishads which are associated with a Brahmana book or Aaranyaka book
typically constituting their ending chapter or chapters are quoted by Baadaraayana
in his book Brahma Sutras. They are Isha, Kena, Katha, Prashna, Mundaka,
Maandukya, Aitareya, Taittiriya, Chhandogya, Brhadaranyaka, Kaushitaki,
Shvetashvatara and Mahanarayana.34

Of the well-known ten Upanishads, three belong to Atharvaveda (Prashna,


Mundaka and Mandukya), two to Shukla Yajur Veda (Isha and Brihadaranyaka),
two to Krishna Yajur Veda ( Katha and Taittiriya); one to Rig Veda (Aitareya) and
two to Sama Veda (Kena and Chandogya).35

Topically arranged these Upanishads might be thus classified- 39 belong to the


Jnanakanda and 62 to Karmakanda while seven deal with miscellaneous topics
associated with Karmakanda. It might be interesting to notice at the outset that
while ordinarily it is believed that the Upanishads are primarily philosophical and
speculative in their topical interest, on actual examination it would be realized that
the Upanishads which deal with the Karmakanda or our daily conduct in life are
greater in number than those that deal with purely metaphysical speculation. The
undue predominance given to metaphysical value of Upanishads is due to the
great movement of Vedantic revival set afoot by acharyas like Sankara, Ramanuja
and Madhva.36

Vedangas- Limbs of the Veda

The term Vedangas literally means a limb of the Veda, the study of which was
essential either for the reading, the understanding or the proper sacrificial
employment of the Vedas. The beginning of the Vedangas go back to the period of
the Brahmanas and Aranyakas where the explanation of the sacrificial ritual are
mixed with occasional discussions on matters relating phonetics, etymology,
grammar, metrics and astronomy. These subjects were treated systematically in
due course in special treatises or texts in the form of sutras. The sutra form was

https://ithihas.wordpress.com/2016/01/ 9/16
26.02.2018 January | 2016 | Ithihas

meant to serve the practical purpose of presenting some science systematically


and concisely so that the pupil may easily commit it to memory. The six subjects
commonly comprehended under the title of Vedangas are

1. Siksha or the science of pronunciation of letters and accents. The doctrine of


shiksha arouse out of a religious need; for inaccurate pronunciation of Vedic
texts was thought to bring disaster to the sacrificer.
2. Chandas is metre
3. Vyakarana means grammar, the purpose of its study is to avoid incorrect
words.
4. Nirukta- Etymology, the object of which was to explain or interpret difficult
Vedic words.
5. Jyotishya- Astronomy; its object was to convey such knowledge of the
heavenly bodies as is necessary for fixing the days and hours of the Vedic
sacrifices.37
6. Kalpa or ceremonial- The Kalpa deals with matters such as

How should a particular ritual be done


What functions or karma should be performed by men of each caste, in
which stage (ashrama)
Which ritual involves which mantra, which materials and which devata
How many Rithviks (priests) should be employed
What vessels of what shape and size should be used

The Kalpa saastra has been compiled by a number of sages. Six sages,
Aapasthamba, Bodhaayana, Vaikhaanasa, Satyaashaada, Bharadwaja and
Agnivesa have written Kalpa Sutra for Krishna Yajur Veda which is mostly
prevalent in South India. For Rig Veda, sage Aaswalayana and for Shukla Yajur
Veda, sage Katyaayana and for Sama Veda, sage Jaimini have composed the
Kalpa Sutra.38

Language of the Vedas

The Vedas, especially the Rigveda samhita and the mantra portion of the
Yajurveda belong to the early phase of the development of Sanskrit language. The
Brahmanas of the Rigveda and Yajurveda present the second stage in the
development of Sanskrit and belong to the period which may be called middle
Sanskrit. The last stage is the classical period to which belongs the epics, earliest
specimens of kavyas and dramatic plays. Panini’s Sanskrit is identified with that
which preceded the epics and to the literary period between the Brahmanas and
Yaska’s Nirukta.39 Paanini who lived during 5th century B.C. use the term
chhandas to describe the Sanskrit language in which the Vedas were composed as
distinguished from bhasha, the spoken Sanskrit language prevailing during his
times. Chhandas included both samhita and the Brahmana literature.40

Purpose of the Vedas

According to Purvamimamsa, the whole Veda is concerned with sacrifices.41


Hence the Vedic religion is considered first and foremost a liturgy and only
secondarily a mythological or speculative system. The Rig Veda, Sama Veda and
Yajur Veda are mentioned together as the triple Veda (Vedatrayi) and conform to
ancient hieraticism.42 But apart from yajnas and methods of worship, the Vedas
also mention many methods of meditation and prayers (upaasana).43 The Rig-
Veda contains over ten thousand mantras, hardly one-third of them are employed
in Vedic rites, the rest are employed in japa.44 Also several hymns and verses of
the Rigveda are purely philosophical, cosmological, mystic and speculative.45 The
Vedas also deal with various kinds of medical treatment to ensure bodily health
and shantis or methods to pacify enemies and to avert the harm contemplated by
them.46 According to Sri Aurobindo the Vedas are not books of rituals but books of
wisdom valid for all times, particularly modern times, framed in exquisite poetry.47

Mode of Vedic Worship

At a very early stage in the development of Vedic religion, the offering of oblation in
the fire to the gods was accompanied by the recitation of Vedic verses as the Vedic
people held the belief that a sacrifice which was accompanied by the recitation of
Vedic verses yielded desired results.48
https://ithihas.wordpress.com/2016/01/ 10/16
26.02.2018 January | 2016 | Ithihas

In the beginning the ritual were very few and simple, but with the passage of time
they become large in number and complicated in their performance. As the
ritualistic performances became complicated the householder (yajaman) began to
patronize a priest who might help in the performance of the rites and in return the
yajaman gave him dakshina (wealth and cattle). When the Vedic sacrifices took a
large shape the family priest alone was not able to perform the entire rituals and
other priests were invited, these occasional priests were called rtviks and were
given fees called dakshina.49

When the Vedic ritual developed further, the priests felt the need of a collection of
verses and formulas to be recited at the performance of sacrifices and this
necessity led to the compilation of certain Rigvedic verses and ritualistic formulas
in the form of Yajur Veda.50

The Kalpa Sutra describes 40 Vedic rituals or karmas to be performed from the
time the embryo forms in the womb to the time the body is cremated. They are
divided under the heads- Grihya Sutra containing 26 rituals and Srouta Sutras
containing 14 rituals. While Grihya Sutras describes the domestic rites those done
at home, Srouta Sutras describes major sacrifices.51 The Srouta Sutras contained
a very detailed, meticulously accurate and vivid descriptions of several sacrifices
based on Brahmana texts.52

Important Vedic Sacrifices

Some of the important yajnas (sacrifices) were Agnyadheya (performed by a


person with his wife with the help of four priests for two days), Agnihotra, Darsha
Purnamasa, Pindapitryajna and Jyotistoma. Sacrifices like Vaishvadeva,
Varunapraghasa, Sakamedha and Shunasiriya were called Chaturmasya i.e.
seasonal sacrifices. Then there was Soma sacrifices, which were seven in form
and were performed by kings, nobles and the rich and required 16 priests. These
sacrifices were Agnistoma, Atyagnistana, Ukthya, Sodashin, Vajapeya, Atiratra and
Aptoryama. Other important sacrifices were Sautramani and Ashvamedha
sacrifices.53

Vedic Priests

The Vedic sacrifices required the services of specialized priests performing


different duties. The Hotr priests used to recite the rik mantras and summon the
Gods; he is the summoner, aahvaata. The Udgaata priest’s duty was to delight the
Gods by chanting the Saaman mantras54 Verses from Rigveda and Sama Veda
are recited loudly.55

Preparing the altars, bringing the fuel, placing utensils at Vedi, producing agni by
churning of two fire sticks, bringing of animals, killing and making offerings to them
into agni were performed by the adhvaryu priest.56 All yaju mantras were to be
muttered in a low voice except Aashruta.57 The Brahma was the chief priest who
led the whole ceremony without interfering in the rules of the sacrifice. He was
supposed to know all the three Vedas.58 The names of other priests who were
associated with Vedic rites were agnimindha, gravagarbha, shamsta, suvipra, potr,
prashastr, etc.59

Interpretation of the Vedas

The hymns of Rig Veda samhita were composed at different times by different
rishis and were transmitted from father to son in certain families. The composition
of these hymns extended over a long period, the language is not the same
throughout and sometimes it is so antiquated that they defy all efforts at
interpretation and their sense was not understood even by the rishis who flourished
in the very next generation.60 This led to the growth of various schools who
interpreted the Vedas from their point of view. They were the Nairuktas
(etymologists), the Yajnikas (ritualists or sacrificial school), Vyakaranas
(grammarians), Jyautisakas (astronomers), Sampradayavids (traditionists),
Adhyatmavids (philosophers), Aitihasikas (legendarians) and Bhasavids
(philogists/linguists of the west)61 Parivrajakas (mystic school), Adhidaivata
(naturalistic), Nayyaayikas (logicians) and Adhibuta (supra-physical).

https://ithihas.wordpress.com/2016/01/ 11/16
26.02.2018 January | 2016 | Ithihas

These schools interpreted the words in the Veda differently. For instance Yaska in
his Nirukta says that for the Aitihasikas the word ‘Vrtra’, means Asura, son of
Tvastr, while according to the Nairuktas, ‘Vrtra’ means only cloud. In another
instance the Nairuktas identified the twins mentioned in RV X.17.2 as Indra and
Madhyamika, while the Aitihasikas identify them as Yama and Yami. Yaska’s
Nirukta mentions the names of 17 individual predecessors like Agrayana, Kautsa,
Gargya, Galava, Sakatayana, etc. whom Yaska differs often and who differ among
themselves with regards to interpreting words in the Vedas.62

Though the first systematic attempt to interpret the Vedas was made by the
Nairuktas, the ritualistic interpretations of the Vedas gradually supplanted the other
systems of Vedic interpretations, for the sacrificial employment of the Vedic
mantras came to be regarded as their main utility in the period of the Kalpa Sutras
and later on.63 The earliest attempt to put ritualistic interpretation on the Vedic
mantras is discernible in the compilation of the Yajur Veda (literarily meaning ‘the
Veda of the ritualistic formulas) in which a considerable number of verses from
Rigveda had been adapted for sacrificial purpose.64

This is why almost all the ancient extant commentaries on the Rigveda are
predominantly ritualistic in their approach. The famous commentator Sayana in the
introduction to his commentary on the Rigveda asserts that since the Yajur Veda is
useful mainly for the performance of sacrifices, he has first explained that Veda
and has later on taken up the Rigveda for explanation.65

The ritualistic interpretations occupy a predominant position not only in the


commentaries of Sayana, Uvata and Mahidhara on the Yajur Veda, but also on the
commentaries of Skandasvamin, Udgitha, Venkatamadhava, and Sayana on the
Rigveda and also in the commentaries on the Sama Veda and Atharva Veda.66

The dominant tradition of ritual application of Vedic mantras and the tremendous
influence exercised by the ritualistic texts like the Brahmanas, Kalpa Sutras and
Paddhatis on the Vedic students seem to account for the preponderance of
ritualistic interpretation of the Vedas.67

During modern times Swami Dayananda Saraswathi and Sri Aurobindo have
interpreted the Vedas in the Adibuta (supra-physical) and Parivrajakas (mystic)
method respectively.

The Adibuta method gives man-related, creature oriented, social or nationalistic


interpretation of the Vedic hymns. This method has been very rarely used by the
commentators of the Veda and Swami Dayananda Saraswathi alone has used this
method.68

According to Sri Aurobindo the hymns of the Veda has a mystic meaning and the
rishis for the sake of secrecy resorted to double meaning, the secret word was
understood only by the one who was purified in soul and awakened. But P.V.Kane
objects to his view and says that the most sublime thought of the Rigveda is that
there is only one spirit behind the various gods; Indra, Mitra, Varuna, Agni, that
originally there was only One, there was no day and night, no death and
immortality. No secrecy was observed about this fundamental truth and it was
proclaimed in mantras that can be understood even by an ordinary man of today
who knows a little Sanskrit. Because we cannot understand some mantras does
not mean that the ancient seers purposely composed mantras with two
meanings.69

According to Ram Gopal the problem of Vedic interpretation is that since the
language of the Vedas and especially that of the Rigveda is highly developed,
polished and often figurative any attempt to present a literal translation of the Vedic
hymns according to the meanings assigned to common words in the later Sanskrit
is bound to lead to a gross misinterpretation of the Vedas.70

Vedic shakas (branches) and charanas (schools)

Veda Vyasa had divided the Vedas into four and taught Rigveda to Paila,
Yajurveda to Vaishampaayana, Samaveda to Jaimini and Atharvaveda to
Sumantu. Paila in turn divided the Rig Veda into two samhita and gave one each to
Indrapramati and Baskala. Indrapramati taught it to his son Maandukeya. Baskala

https://ithihas.wordpress.com/2016/01/ 12/16
26.02.2018 January | 2016 | Ithihas

divided his samhita into four and taught it to Bodhi, Aadimaadhava, Yajnavalkya
and Parashara. Vaishampaayana made 27 divisions of Yajurveda and taught it to
his disciples. Jaimini’s great grand- son, Sutva divided the Samaveda into
thousand branches. Sumantu taught Atharvaveda to Kabandha who split it into two
and gave each to his disciples, Devadarsha and Pathya.71 In this way the original
Veda was divided into four and later subdivided into a number of branches and sub
branches called shakas.

The text of a Vedic shaka would grow into a living institution and spread into
offshoots claiming numerous teachers and students within its fold. The original
teacher was the nucleus round whom there grew up an appropriate literature of
exposition like the Brahmanas to which contribution were made by teachers and
pupils of successive generations expanding their literary heritage. The charana
represented the type of educational institution in which one particular recension or
branch of the Veda was studied by a group of pupils called after the original
founder. For example Rishi Tittiri promulgated the Taittriya sakha of which the
students were also called Taittiriyas. These charana in course of time developed its
full literature comprising of Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishad text, Kalpa and
srauta sutras and later on even its Dharma Sutra.72 According to the divergence of
the Brahmanas of different shakas there occurred the divergences of content and
the length of the Upanishads associated with them. Thus the Upanishads attached
to the Brahmanas of the Aitareya and Kausitaki schools are called respectively
Aitareya and Kausitaki Upanishads.73

The establishment of numerous branches may also be due to a variety of factors


like geographical location, ritual specialization and doctrinal and ritual disputes. It is
within these branches that most of the Vedic texts were composed and orally
handed down. Each of these Vedic branches has as its foundation text a samhita
(collection) of verses or liturgical formulas and a prose text Brahmana explaining
the meaning of the liturgy. The samhita was by and large common to all the
branches of a Veda, even though some may have their own recension of it, while
each branch has its own Brahmana.74

These shakas followed their own methods of recitation of the text, preservation of
the knowledge, interpretation and application of the mantras.75 During Paanini’s
time the Rigveda had been divided into 21 shakas (branches), the Yajurveda into
101 shakas, the Samaveda into 1000 shakas and the Atharvaveda into nine
shakas. 76

Available recensions of the Veda as present

As of now only one, Shakalakas of the Rigveda; two, Shaunakiya and Paippalada
of the Atharvaveda; three, Kauthumas, Ranayaniyas and Jaiminiyas of the Sama
Veda and five of the Yajurveda (three of Krishna YV namely Taittiriyas, Kathas and
Maitrayaniyas and two of Shukla YV namely Madhyandinas and Kanvas)
recensions are available.77

Methodology for Vedic studies: The study of Vedas began after the upanayana
ceremony which was performed at the age of eight for Brahmins, at the age of ten
for Kshtriyas and twelve for Vaishyas. Gautama Smrtis says 12 years is required to
study one Veda. Manu Smrti says one should study the three Vedas for 36 years
under a guru or 18 years for two Vedas and nine years for one Veda. The student
should not only memorize it but also understand its meaning and actually perform
the sacrifices and also teach it or expound it. Daksa says Vedabhyasa (study of
Vedas) comprehends five matters, viz, memorizing it, reflection over it, constant
repetition of it, japa and imparting it to pupils. These were ideals attained by a few
persons only, while most Brahmins generally rested content with memorizing one
Veda or a portion of it.78

Interpolation in the Vedas

Dr. B.R.Ambedkar in his work- Who were the Shudras, citing Colebrooke 79 and
Max Muller 80 opines that the Purusha Sukta verse in the tenth mandala of the
Rigveda is an interpolation. Similarly H.L.Hariyappa 81 infers that two of the
Rigvedic verses (1.24.12 and 1.24.13) ascribed to Shunashshepa could be a later
insertion or interpolation by samhita designers in order to remind themselves of
that great Vedic event. Regarding how interpolation takes place we get an idea
https://ithihas.wordpress.com/2016/01/ 13/16
26.02.2018 January | 2016 | Ithihas

from Ghasi Ram who has translated the commentaries on the Veda by Maharshi
Dayanada Saraswathi into English. According to him whenever an author aspired
to give currency to his views he adopted the most convenient course by composing
a work of his own and sending it out into the world in the name of Vyasa or some
other person whose authority was acknowledge by all and sundry or if he dared not
do this he quietly interpolated his views into an authoritative work. The manuscript
so tampered with was copied and circulated in places far and wide and thus gained
currency in the country and came to be regarded as an authentic copy of the
original. This explains the fact why we find views diametrically opposed tone
another advocated in one and the same book.82 Hence Katre in his work,
Introduction to Indian Textual Criticism says that Interpolation is a natural instinct in
man and such cannot be considered a crime. Considering the texts which have
been transmitted for centuries by oral tradition only- namely the Veda and Vedic
literature- the aspect of interpolation need not be doubted at all, “for the organs of
tradition were not machines, but men”.83

Status of Vedic worship at present

According to the Purvamimaamsa, Vedas are eternal, self-existent and of absolute


authority.84 Manu states that in case of conflict between Sruti and Smrti, the former
prevails.85 Still the learned men of the 10th century prohibited about 55 customs
and practices sanctioned by the Vedas, declaring them to be harmful in the Kali
age. The reason for this injunction was, during 500 B.C. and 1000 A.D. vast
changes in the religions and social ideas of the Indian people and in their customs
and usages had taken place. Buddhism arose, flourished and disappeared from
India, the caste system became rigid in the matter of food, marriage and social
behavior; Vedic rites, divinities worshipped and language underwent great
transformation. Animal sacrifice though occasionally performed had ceased to be
looked upon as meritorious. As the common people had ceased to follow ancient
ritual and worship, the religious literature had to be recast to suit new ideals and
new worship.86

The living Hindu religion of today is essentially Tantric. Even a few genuine Vedic
rites that are preserved and are supposed to be derived straight from the Vedas,
i.e. the Sandhya have been modified by the addition of tantric practices.87
Currently rituals like Chandihoma, Vishnuyaaga, etc. imitating the character of
srouta rituals are mixed with tantric elements and performed.88 The Gods
worshipped today by the Hindus are Shiva and Vishnu and his avatar’s like Rama
and Krishna. Shiva and Vishnu were minor gods during the Vedic age. Later Shiva
absorbed the functions of Agni and Vishnu those of Indra and Surya. The
Vaishnava, Shakta and Shaiva movement on which the present Hinduism is based
is influenced by the Agamas. The rituals of the temples based on Agamas killed
out the Vedic yajnas.89 Vedic sacrifices are now very rarely performed except a few
simple ones like Darshapurnamaasa and Charturmaasyas.90

Reference

1. Subodh Kapoor (Edited)- Encyclopedia of Vedic Philosophy: The Age,


Religion, Literature, vol-8, Cosmos Publication, New Delhi, 2002. P.2071
2. Ram Gopal- The History and Principles of Vedic Interpretation, Concept
Publishing Company, New Delhi, 1983. P.1
3. Shrikant G. Talageri- The Rigveda- A Historical Analysis, Aditya Prakashan,
New Delhi, 2000, p.6
4. L.Kashyap- Essentials of Krishna and Shukla Yajur Veda, Sri Aurobindo
Kapali Sastry Institute of Vedic Culture, Bangalore, 2004, p.16
5. Swami Mahadevananda Giri- Vedic Culture, University of Calcutta, 1947
6. See https://ithihas.wordpress.com/2013/04/20/date-of-mahabharatha-war/
7. Ibid
8. L.Kashyap, Op.cit, p. 16
9. Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati- The Vedas, Bharatiya Vidhya Bhawan,
Mumbai, 2006, pp:108,109
10. Ibid, p.43
11. L.Kashyap- Essentials of Rigveda, Sri Aurobindo Kapali Sastry Institute of
Vedic Culture, Bangalore, 2005, p.2
12. Surendranath Dasgupta- History of Indian Philosophy, vol- I, Cambridge
University Press, 1922, pp: 16,17
13. L.Kashyap- Essentials of Rigveda, pp: 29,30
https://ithihas.wordpress.com/2016/01/ 14/16
26.02.2018 January | 2016 | Ithihas

14. Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati, cit, p.85


15. L.Kashyap- Essentials of Krishna and Shukla Yajur Veda, p.2
16. A. MacDonell-History of Sanskrit Literature, D.Appleten & Company, New
York, 1900, p.30
17. Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati, cit, p.45
18. L.Kashyap- Essentials of Krishna and Shukla Yajur Veda, pp:3,19
19. L.Kashyap- Essentials of Rigveda, p.7
20. L.Kashyap- Essentials of Krishna and Shukla Yajur Veda, p.94
21. Ibid, p.19
22. Ibid, p.11
23. Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati, cit, p.47
24. A. MacDonell, Op.cit, pp:171,172
25. Introduction to the commentary on the Vedas by Maharshi Dayanand
Saraswathi, Translated from the original Sanskrit by Ghasi Ram,
Sarvadeshik Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, New Delhi, 1984, p.382
26. Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati, cit, p.47
27. L.Kashyap- Essentials of Rigveda, p.7
28. Introductory remarks by M.C.Joshi in The Atharva Veda by Devichand,
Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Ltd, 1997, p.x
29. Hukum Chand Patyal- Significance of the Atharvaveda in Journal of the
Ananthacharya Indological Research Institute, vol-I, edited by G.K.Pai and
A.P.Jamkhedkar, p.46
30. V.Kane- History of Dharmashastra, vol-5, part II, Bhandarkar Oriental
Research Institute, Poona, 1962, p.1223
31. A. MacDonell, Op.cit, p.33
32. Swami Mahadevananda Giri, cit, pp:281,282
33. Surendranath Dasgupta, cit, p.14
34. The Light of Veda- A Practical Approach by T.V.Kapali Sastry- Compiled by
R.L.Kashyap, Sri Aurobindo Kapali Sastry Institute of Vedic Culture,
Bangalore, 2004, p.15
35. K.Venkatesan – The Upanishads and the Atharvaveda, QJMS– VOL XXVI
July 1935, No 1,p.53
36. Ibid, p.51
37. Vedangas and their Value- G.Sitaramiah, QJMS, vol-32, April 1942, pp:375-
76
38. Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati, cit, pp: 169,170
39. Krishnamachariar, History of Classical Sanskrit Literature, TTD Press,
Madras, 1937, pp:3-5
40. S.Agrawala-India as known to Panini, University of Lucknow, 1953, p.318
41. V.Kane, Op.cit, p.984
42. Hukum Chand Patyal- cit, p.43
43. Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati, cit, p.85
44. V.Kane, Op.cit, p.1223
45. Ibid, 983
46. Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati, cit,, p.85
47. The Light of Veda- A Practical Approach, cit, p.viii
48. Ram Gopal, cit, p.23
49. B.Chaubey- Origin and Evolution of Vedic Rituals in the Journal of the
Ananthacharya Indological Research Institute, Op.cit, pp:17,19
50. Ram Gopal, cit, p.23
51. Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati, cit, p.170
52. V.Kane- History of Dharmashastra, vol-2, part II, Bhandarkar Oriental
Research Institute, Poona, 1941, p.980
53. Ibid, pp: 986-1255 gives details about these sacrifices
54. The Light of Veda- A Practical Approach, cit, p.30
55. V.Kane- History of Dharmashastra, vol-2, part II,p.984
56. B.Chaubey, Op.cit, p.20
57. V.Kane- History of Dharmashastra, vol-2, part II,p.984
58. Paul Deussen- Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, vol-I, translated from Germany
by V.M.Bedekar and G.B.Palsule, Motilal Banaridass Publishers, New Delhi,
1987, p.1
59. V.Kane- History of Dharmashastra, vol-2, part II,p.981
60. Krishnamachariar, Op.cit, p. xix
61. Hariyappa- Rig-Vedic Legends through the Ages, Poona, 1953, pp: 132,133
62. V.Kane- History of Dharmashastra, vol-5, part II,p.984
63. Ram Gopal, cit, p.30
64. Ibid, p.22
65. Ibid, p.30
https://ithihas.wordpress.com/2016/01/ 15/16
26.02.2018 January | 2016 | Ithihas

66. Ibid
67. Ibid
68. Ramnath Vedalankar’s article entitled- Dayananda’s unique contribution to
Vedic interpretation in World Perspectives on Swami Dayananda
Saraswathi– Editor, Ganga Ram Garg, Concept Publishing Company, New
Delhi, 1984, p.11
69. V.Kane- History of Dharmashastra, vol-5, part II,pp:986,987
70. Ram Gopal, cit, p.12
71. Vettam Mani- Puranic Encyclopedia, Motilal Banarsidass, 1975, pp:304,305
72. S.Agrawala, Op.cit,pp:286,295-298
73. Surendranath Dasgupta, cit, p.30
74. Patrick Olivelle- The Dharma Sutras- The Law Codes of Ancient India,
Oxford University Press, 1999, p.xxii
75. Jyesht Verman- The Vedas, Oxford and IBH Publishing Co Pvt Ltd. 1992,
pp: 9,10
76. S.Agrawala, Op.cit,pp:14,15
77. Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati, cit, p.112
78. V.Kane- History of Dharmashastra, vol-5, part II,pp:1180-1182
79. Colebrooke says that in language, metre and style the Purusha Sukta is very
different from the rest of the prayers with which it is associated. It has a
decidedly more modern tone and must have been composed after the
Sanskrit language had been refined and its grammar and rhythm perfected.
80. In the opinion of Max Muller “There can be little doubt, for instance, that the
90th hymn of the 10th book… is modern both in its character and in its
diction. It is full of allusions to the sacrificial ceremonials, it uses technically
philosophical terms, it mentions the three seasons in the order of Vasanta,
spring, Grishma, summer and Sharad, autumn; it contains the only passage
in the Rig Veda where the four castes are enumerated. The evidence of
language for the modem date of this composition is equally strong. Grishma,
for instance, the name for the hot season, does not occur in any other hymn
of the Rig Veda; and Vasanta also, the name of spring does not belong to
the earliest vocabulary of the Vedic poets. It occurs but once more in the Rig
Veda (x. 161.4), in a passage where the three seasons are mentioned in the
order of Sharad, autumn; Hemanta, winter; and Vasanta, spring.”
81. Hariyappa- Rig-Vedic Legends through the Ages, Poona, 1953, p. 186
82. Introduction to the commentary on the Vedas by Maharshi Dayanand
Saraswathi, cit, pp:vii,viii
83. Cited in L.Hariyappa’s- Rig-Vedic Legends through the Ages, Poona, 1953,
p. 186
84. V.Kane- History of Dharmashastra, vol-5, part II,p.1270
85. Ibid, p.1265
86. Ibid, p.1267
87. T.Srinivasa Iyengar- Outlines of Indian Philosophy, Theosophical Publishing
Society, Benaras and London, 1909, p.130
88. G.Kshikar- The Shrauta Ritual and its Relevance Today in the Journal of the
Ananthacharya Indological Research Institute, Op.cit, p.55
89. T.Srinivasa Iyengar, Op.cit, pp:124,128
90. V.Kane- History of Dharmashastra, vol-II, part II,p.978

By S.Srinivas | Posted in essays | Comments (0)

Blog at WordPress.com. | .

https://ithihas.wordpress.com/2016/01/ 16/16